HCDE 451 A3 Laser Cut Object

Laptop Stand Process Log

Sami Foell
4 min readOct 25, 2023


Project Scoping

I began this project by familiarizing myself with the design requirements to give some general direction for my creation. I knew I wanted to create something larger, so moving forward with the two chipboard option was ideal. But what to make? After some consideration I chose to create a laptop stand given it’s utility and utilization of several larger components.

Initial Sketching

I then hopped into my sketchbook with my ink pen to begin ideating the form factors of the laptop stand in combination with precise measurements to ensure I remained inline with the material constraints.

Initial Product Sketches

I aimed to minimize the modular components to afford users a less effortful experience when constructing the stand. Thus, two base stand components and two structural supports were utilized. The base component dimensions of 4 x 9 in and support dimensions of 2 x 12 in provide sufficient size to support most standard laptop sizes. Two 2 in slots within each base component allowed for the 2 structural supports to be easily inserted. An important design decision was to create a soft angle along the top edge of the base component, which was created by leaving one side at a height of 4 in and the opposite at 3 in. At this shorter end, a 1/2 stopper protrudes, serving as a measure to securely contain a laptop. In this initial sketching period, I experimented with the concept of include an attachment container on the side of the laptop stand to elevate its utility. However, the feasibility and usability of all these components would need to be explored within an my prototyping phase.


Using an old Amazon box, I precisely measured out each of the components from my initial sketches using a no. 2 pencil and ruler. This was very useful before diving in with my box cutter. Having my materials in order, I cut out each component and united them into the rough laptop stand below.

Initial Laptop Stand Prototype

I immediately noticed a few pitfalls. For one, the attachable container did not have the structural integrity to support items without bending at the attachment point. Additionally, the two horizontal structural support pieces did not stay in place, resulting in a less stable, sound base.

Having these insights in mind, I adjusted the schematics for the laptop stand, adjusting the support beam to have a slight crevice that would slide into the base creating a ‘lock’. The container was removed due to lack of feasibility and usability. These updates were reflected when translating my design to a digital medium with Inkscape.

Second Prototype Inkscape Design

Having a precisely designed digital schema for my laptop stand, I headed to the MILL to cut out my creation using a laser cutter. The final product can be seen below, successful supporting my laptop at a slight angle while remaining structurally stable thanks to my ‘lock’ joint.

Second Constructed Prototype


What Worked Well

During this project, having a wide variety of sketches allowed me to experiment with form and function, trying out new ideas (e.g. the attachable container). Having precise measurements before jumping into prototyping allowed me to very easily engage in physical construction. Branching off this, having multiple construction phases for prototypes allowed me to identify feasibility and usability pitfalls, particularly regarding the attachment point for my base and support beams. This allowed for my final prototype to be much more structurally sound and holistically more refined product.

Friction Points

I found the most challenge within my workflow emerged when engaging with the laser cutting machine and using the Inkscape freeware. For one, the Inkscape interface is not intuitive and lacks an easily learnable workflow, especially for component measurements. This resulted in an lengthy amount of time meticulously drawing out the design with much trial and error. Additionally, the laser cutting machine did not accept all files types from Inkscape, adding to more trial and error. The machine had difficulty cutting shapes out of a single sheet if the design was near the material edge, resulting in more adjustment of the design and time investment to simply get the design to be accepted by the machine.

Design Critique

During the in-class feedback session, I was able to show my product to several classmates. The following list showcases key insights:

  • Laptop stand height is slightly taller than needed for typing, consider decreasing to provide a more natural, comfortable typing interaction (great for watching media content though).
  • Very simple and angular, can push the creative envelope further through simple aesthetic flourishes (e.g. rounded corners).
  • Support slots slide together very quickly, creating a symmetrical and easily constructed design

This feedback will be useuful in further elevating my laptop stand prototype to an even more refined fidelity if further work was to be done.